Whenever I receive an email at work that begins with the salutation, 'Dear Sirs,' I must admit that I leave it for a little longer than usual to reply. A woman who gets to be addressed as Sir, whether deliberately or not, reserves the right to let someone wait.
Number one: I'm not a Sir. When I'm addressed as a Sir whether in a formal letter or e-mail, I feel that it's equivalent to being mistaken for a man over the phone even when my name and voice are obviously feminine. And by the way, who are the other Sirs? Seated next to me is another woman.
Number two: It's sexist. And sweeping. What makes the sender think that a department in any business is run by men only?
Number three: It's politically incorrect. Nowadays when LGBTs can marry or enter a civil partnership in some countries, why am I, a woman, still hidden beneath a title reserved for a man?
Number four: It's not gender-neutral. An officer is. Their is, as opposed to his/her. A manager is. That's why I balk at women who insist on being addressed as manageress. 'Manager' doesn't make you feel less of a woman and neither does it turn you into a man. But 'Sir' does.
It's been a while since I last took a technical writing class, and although I've always been taught that a salutation must begin with a Sir/Madam if the gender of the recipient is unknown, I'm also aware of the old-school formal writing rule of addressing a department as 'Dear Sirs' even though I have always refused to do so.
Of course I don't believe in the segregation of men and women, whether on a piece of paper or aboard public transportation, but I disagree that women should be collectively addressed as part of the menfolk. It's already a known fact that there's an imbalance in the take-home pay of men and women for doing the same job, that the least that can be served us in the work place is for our gender to be given credit at least when addressed.
Is that too much to ask for?
To acknowledge that I'm a woman. That I'm not a man. Therefore, I'm not a Sir?
I got over myself and finally replied to the gentleman who emailed me regarding an enquiry. I just received a very polite message from him again.
He addressed me as Miss.